Why Tom Campbell Should Win the California Republican Senate Primary

In 1998, a group of about 20 moderate House Republicans who'd been hedging on impeachment fell in line against Bill Clinton. Among them was then-Rep. Tom Campbell.


By Scott Galupo, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

As a traditionalist on social issues, I tire pretty quickly of the media’s—and much of official Washington’s—never-ending quest for more fiscal conservatives with moderate social views. As my friend Ramesh Ponnuru often notes, social conservatives, especially evangelicals, are the GOP’s most dependable bloc of fiscal conservatives. And so-called moderate Republicans, like the fading Arlen Specter once was, are as likely to cross party lines on spending, not just on abortion.

But in coastal states like Massachusetts (see Brown, Scott) and California, flexibility on life issues and marriage, as a practical matter, is hard to quibble with. So it’s a bit troubling to read Jim Carlton’s report in the Wall Street Journal detailing Republican Senate candidate (and former House member) Tom Campbell’s apparent stall in Tuesday’s primary against Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore. (The winner gets to face Sen. Barbara Boxer in November.)

[See where Boxer gets her campaign funds.]

I remember Campbell well. When I moved to Washington permanently in June 1998, the capital was about to become embroiled in the Clinton impeachment drama. At some point during the summer—August, as I recall—the president delivered his notorious non-apology apology. “I misled people,” and all that.

One by one, a group of about 20 moderate House Republicans who’d been hedging on impeachment fell in line against Clinton. Among them was then-Rep. Tom Campbell.

In the rash of television interviews for and against impeachment, Campbell was, to my lights, easily the most persuasive advocate for impeaching the president—far more effective than the Judiciary Committee members, including even the late, great Henry Hyde, who would actually argue the case in the Senate.

I don’t remember Campbell’s words verbatim, but they came down to this: If it’s in Bill Clinton’s interest to lie, he will lie. And if he lied about this, what wouldn’t he lie about?

I’d love to see that guy back in Congress.

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